James Connally Air Force Base

By: Art Leatherwood

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: April 25, 2019

James Connally Air Force Base, located seven miles northeast of Waco, was initially a basic pilot-training school. It opened as Waco Army Air Field on May 5, 1942, and became headquarters for the Army Air Force Central Instructors' School in February 1945. The base was inactive from late 1945 to 1948, when it was reactivated as a basic pilot-training school. On June 10, 1949, the name was changed to Connally Air Force Base in memory of Col. James T. Connally, a local pilot killed in Japan in 1945. By 1951 the name had been changed to James Connally Air Force Base, and all pilot training had been discontinued. Training for navigators, radar operators, and bombardiers began in June. The Instrument Pilot Instructors School was subsequently moved to the base and trained instructor pilots from many allied nations. The school also trained officer pilots as radar operators and navigators to provide triple-rated aircraft commanders for the rapidly growing fleet of B-47s. That program was discontinued in 1962. The air force was sharing the base with the state of Texas by 1965, when James Connally Technical Institute (later renamed Texas State Technical Institute) was established. In January 1966 the Tactical Air Command assumed control of the base for headquarters of the Twelfth Air Force. The base was also being used by General Dynamics Corporation as a modification center for the B-58 bomber; the technical center provided many of the technicians for the project. The base was purchased by the state of Texas after the Twelfth Air Force moved its headquarters to Bergstrom Air Force Base at Austin.

Dayton Kelley, ed., The Handbook of Waco and McLennan County, Texas (Waco: Texian, 1972). Patricia Ward Wallace, Waco: Texas Crossroad (Woodland Hills, California: Windsor Publications, 1983).

Time Periods:

  • World War II

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Art Leatherwood, “James Connally Air Force Base,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 28, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/james-connally-air-force-base.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 25, 2019